2014-01-14

Almost exactly a year ago I started a journal about my IVF journey, on Blipfoto.

The most important thing that I wanted to do was to be honest – to be 100% honest with myself and by extension my readers about everything that happened as it happened, and how I felt about it. I didn’t want to hide anything, or sugar-coat it. I knew there would be ups and downs and I knew that I’d write things that might seem difficult for the outsider to understand because they might appear contradictory or unreasonable. But I thought that if I shared my feelings there might be people out there that felt less isolated for knowing they were not alone in this experience, and there might be people who can learn a bit about what the process is like and learn from my experience to enable them to show compassion for others in their lives going through a similar thing.

Subsequently I have started up two WordPress blogs – one for the journey (the same text as Blipfoto) called BabyMaybe, and another containing just the content on pregnancy nausea called Stick your ginger. I have had tens of thousands of views on these blogs.

Let’s be honest in the big scheme of things I sailed through three cycles of IVF. It makes a good story, and I coped with it all as it happened. People followed it and were hugely supportive.

Then I got pregnant – terrific news, a happy ending.

But for me being pregnant has been tough. I have had extreme and severe nausea (i.e. feeling right on the verge of being sick at all times) which has left me bedbound for months. There is no question that my experience is in the worst 5% of people’s experience of ‘morning sickness’ (calibrated against stats from medical journals I have read). I have felt unwell in a front-of-mind and persistent way that I never have before (and I have been life-threateningly ill before), and I have not been able to get adequate medication to help with this despite it being available. I have been completely incapacitated for months, socially isolated, unable to work, unable to exercise, unable to do anything for myself. Every single thing that I am has been taken away from me by this ‘morning sickness’.

As a direct result of this I now have antenatal depression.

I don’t want any of this. I thought I’d be able to cope with pregnancy as I’ve coped with IVF and the recent death of my father and plenty of other difficult things in my life. I want to be positive. I want to cook the dinner and go to work and look forward to having a baby.

I want to be a brave and inspiring person.

But I feel really really crappy and some days are easier than others.

In the last twelve months I have done IVF three times, my Dad has died, and I have been incapacitated for three months. This has finally broken me.

Throughout this extremely challenging time in my life my blogging it is the one thing that I have prioritised doing – some days the only thing I have managed to do. Being reflective helps me to understand my feelings and gives me a record of my progress or otherwise.

And I’m sure it isn’t a fun and uplifting read anymore. But it is real – it is my life as it happens. I am a real person and these are my real feelings.

I’m sorry if my depression makes me unpleasant, I’m sorry if I’m not grateful enough for being pregnant after being an infertile for so long, and I’m sorry that there are starving children in Africa who would be delighted to have my first world problems.

And I really am sorry. I am a person who cares desperately about the world. I work with charities, I volunteer, I’m a bloody good friend, I listen, I’m a card-carrying member of the PC-brigade who will go out of my way to make things nicer for other people at the expense of my own comfort.

I am not a person who, in real life, places emotional demands on their friends. Very few people know what is going on in my head, because very few people bother to ask.

This blog is the only place where I allow myself the self-indulgence of being 100% me.

And even that is because I believe it is for the greater good.

So when people leave comments on my blog such as “I understand your health concerns. But there are people facing far worse and being far more positive” it hurts me. Sometimes the flippant or less supportive comments make me cry. My response is that I worry I have not explained myself properly. I allow myself to feel criticised and believe I am a terrible person. A whinger, a malingerer, a nasty whiny bitch who doesn’t deserve to be liked or supported.

At one of the most vulnerable of times in my life I have completely exposed myself to the mercy of the internet in the hope that my story might raise awareness of what this sort of journey is really like.

I’m going to keep doing this – for me and for anyone else that might not feel so alone because I have done so.

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